On July 18th the FirstFruits Scholars Program in partnership with FirstFruits Farms Community hosted new, renewing, and graduated scholars and their families for the annual Scholars Banquet. The community youth rallied together to help set up for the event and serve the guests of honor. First Fruits Scholar Cesar Castañeda, who recently graduated from WSU with his bachelor’s degree in Comparative Ethnic Studies and Human Development, gave an encouraging speech to the scholars starting and returning to college this fall. “One thing that you’ll figure out in college, if you haven’t yet, is that it is a difficult journey to complete on your own, and there is no shame in that. If anything, I guarantee that your time at college becomes more fun when you begin to reach out and receive help from the people and organizations around you,” Cesar counseled.
He spoke of finding a sense of belonging through his fraternity and the Latinx Student Center; of seeking out mentorship from faculty and staff; and of being pushed by a mentor to seek help for depression and anxiety. “These kinds of mental health issues can arise from many different sources, from no longer being the straight-A student you were in high school to simply feeling alone because you no longer live with your family. Fortunately, WSU, as well as many universities now, has free counseling services available to its students. If at any point you feel like you can benefit from these resources, seek them out regardless of the stigma that may surround them in our community.” Today, Cesar works in WSU’s Student Financial Services Office helping all students and guiding them to the many resources on campus.
In closing, Cesar urged everyone present to close their eyes and focus on their purpose: “Picture the people and the reason that you’re taking this step in your life, regardless if that step is going to college or getting up for work in the morning. These are the people we do things for, to make them happy and through them make ourselves happy as well. I feel that every once in a while we lose track of why and who we do things for in our lives, so take a moment from time to time and remember your ‘why’. I know my reason ‘why’, my family, is sitting right over there and the happiness in their eyes after my graduation is what made it all worth it. I know you all can do the same.” At the end of the speech, there weren’t many dry eyes in the audience. Cesar’s advice to seek one’s purpose and use it to guide our lives echoes a core value of the FirstFruits Scholars program and the FirstFruits Farms Community—‘God has a purpose for the world and every person in it’ (1 Corinthians 12).
We celebrate all FirstFruits Scholars, including the 7 college graduates, 38 scholars who are continuing their higher education, and the 16 new scholars. We look forward to standing alongside all the Scholars as they live out their purpose and serve the greater good.